I hear a lot of marketing folks selling “exposure.” You have got to have more exposure. This much exposure will cost “X” dollars. Sorry, but is this a good thing? Exposure: as in, suffering from it can cause you get sick, die, or lose a limb. How about, now you are open to a lawsuit. Worst of all; when you join it with “indecent,” you end up on a list that changes your life forever.
I recently read Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Blink. Apparently, humans are ridiculously adept at making instant judgements about who to connect with and trust. It’s amazing to me how much data we humans can process at once, and how many split-second decisions we make every day about who and what we allow to influence us.
In spite of our capacity to process, it’s becoming more clear every day that exposure to a message does not equal influence. Many companies think that they are buying influence, when all they get is exposure. White noise. Influence, sustainable influence, costs much more than a pay-per-click Adwords campaign. Influence only comes when someone gives you the permission – the high privilege – to guide them in a decision.
Name your price
Selling noise is easy: acquiring page views, hits, likes, followers, or bargain groupies is relatively cheap. But influence is something more. Why? Because influence is earned. Yes, there are the manipulative workarounds rampant in our society, but it’s not sustainable. Even if it works as a short-term run, the long-term price is staggering to your brand, and our culture as a whole.
It’s a big deal to influence others. Leadership isn’t cheap. In fact, it’s a staggering responsibility. Somebody once challenged me with this statement: Could someone reach his or her highest potential by following you? Ouch. That’s a question not asked by many in the Advertising Industry.
The greatest influence is the result of trust. Influence begins through shared stories. Influence is strengthened through many connections. And influence is squandered if I fail to do what I say.